Archive for July, 2007


URGENT: Take Ladbroke’s 8/1 on a 2007 election

Friday, July 27th, 2007

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    Now YouGov reports a 9% lead

The Telegraphs YouGov survey for July, our this morning, has more good news for Labour and could reinforce the growing calls for Gordon to go to the country early. These are the figures with comparisons on the last poll from the pollster five days ago – CON 32% (-1): LAB 41% (+1): LD 16% (+1)

This is the biggest lead by any pollster for Labour since November 2005 before David Cameron became Tory leader.The last time that YouGov had a margin on this scale was in August 2005.

As well as giving Gordon more confidence if he did decide to risk it the poll could add further to the pressure on David Cameron within the Tory party.

In the betting there are now almost no punters ready to bet against an early election on the Cantor Spreadfair spread market. The latest spread of the number of weeks until the election starting on Gordon’s succession on June 27th is 77 – 83.5

Ladbrokes, meanwhile, is still offering 8/1 on Gordon going to the country this year. That seems like a great bargain that won’t last long and they will only accept a maximum of £25 online.

Mike Smithson


Who’ll still be there on general election day?

Friday, July 27th, 2007

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    Betfair revive their leader line-up market

One of the great betting markets during the last parliament was Betfair’s leader line-up when you had to predict which of those who had been heading their parties two and a half years earlier would still be there on election day.

So the options then were Blair, IDS and Kennedy; Blair and IDS; Blair and Kennedy; only Blair; only IDS; only Kennedy and none of them. This became a great place to punt as each of the leaders came at one stage or another came under pressure. IDS, of course, was ousted in October 2003.

During the period it operated I had more than 600 separate trades backing and laying on each of the options and came out with a reasonable profit.

Now we’ve got the 2007 version of the market which has just been put up by the betting exchange. The options are with the latest prices:-

All three 0.4/1
Gord and Dave 1.92/1
Gord and Ming 1.7/1
Dave and Ming 9.5/1
Only Gord 9/2
Only Dave 9.5/1
Only Ming 20/1
None of them 9.5/1

There’s very little been put on so far and less than £150 has been traded. But if, say, the pressure does build on Cameron during the summer you could see this being the place where you could bet on him not being there or on him surviving. The same could happen with Ming although and clearly, at the moment, the odds on options including Gordon will remain fairly tight.

Like all these new Betfair markets it only gets interesting when punters start betting and there is some liquidity.

    The general principle to follow is that party leaders are usually much more resilient than the headlines might suggest and the time to get the best price is when one of them is attracting a lot of flak

Provided nothing untoward happens to any of them the all three option will remain the strong favourite.

Today on the site. I’m tied up for almost all the day at a family wedding and will endeavour to publish Sean Fear’s Friday slot when I get a moment.

Mike Smithson

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Is an early election the cautious approach?

Thursday, July 26th, 2007

    Can Gordon risk his poll leads falling off?

gordon number 10 RH.JPGWhenever the subject of an early election, perhaps as soon as October, is mentioned people dismiss the idea because of Gordon’s character. The man, they argue, is not a risk taker and why should he chance everything on an early poll.

Fine. But is waiting the risky strategy? As we’ve seen with Cameron and the Tories the opinion polls can move very fast and the longer an election is delayed the greater the chance of something happening that turns the whole political situation round.

The argument for moving quickly while the Tories are in apparent turmoil must be very tempting. Poll leads of 6-7% may not survive much beyond the summer and better to strike while there’s still the novelty of him not being Tony Blair and the media continue their uncritical coverage. Honeymoons, alas, do come to an end.

My general election date strategy looks to produce big profits on a 2007 election; quite good profits with a 2008 one; the possibility of a loss if there’s a late 2009 election and a nice profit if it goes on until 2010.

I’ve sold “Gordon Brown weeks” on the Cantor Spreadfair market at 85.5. I’ve combined this with a covering bet at 7/1 with Ladbrokes on a 2010 election. The spread bet keeps me in profit on anything upto the third week of March 2009. I then have a period of risk until 2010 when my Ladbrokes 7/1 comes in.

I’ve been quite taken by the argument that it will be either early or late.

Mike Smithson


Is the detail from ICM a life-line for Cameron?

Thursday, July 26th, 2007

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    Should the Guardian’s pollster have followed the Mori approach?

Reproduced above is the detailed finding from the Guardian’s ICM poll that was played big by the paper yesterday and which has sent shock waves throughout the Tory party. It also has been covered extensively in other parts of the media and was the main reason why William Hill opened its “next Tory leader” market.

Yet looking at the options that were put respondents were not offered the chance in both cases of saying “I don’t like the leader and I don’t like the party”.

It does not seem plausible that such a high proportion of non-Tory supporters, – a total of 38% of Labour and 39% of the Lib Dems – were ready to say they liked the Tory party but not the leader or that they liked both. This is hard to credit. The proportion is almost the same with Tory supporters when they gave their view of Labour.

Also a massive 68% of Labour voters were ready to say that they either liked Cameron or the Tories or both. This compares with 53% of the Tory voters who were ready to say the same of Labour and Brown. Eh?

There’s no getting away from the fact that the finding from Tory voters is not good for Cameron but it would have been a lot more damaging if the same response had come if the question had been asked with a full range of options.

I cannot recall a similar question being asked before by ICM and the nearest I can find from another pollster is this from Mori two months ago. The pollster did not provide a party break down but as can be seen the option of not liking either the party and the leader was put.

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From the way I read this the Mori questioning was a lot more coherent.

Whatever the ICM outcome is not good for David Cameron but the finding would have a lot more credibility, surely, if the pollster had followed the Ipsos-Mori approach?

Mike Smithson


Is Labour being complacent about the by elections?

Wednesday, July 25th, 2007

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    Can Brown really take much comfort from this?

With all the focus over the past five or six days being on the Tory failure in last Thursday’s by elections to make any progress there has been almost no scrutiny of the Labour numbers.

Reproduced above are the main party performances in the four by elections that Labour has had to defend since the general election. While not wanting to sound like William Rees-Mogg the votes from Sedgefield last Thursday were hardly a vote of confidence in the new Labour government under the new Prime Minister.

The drop in vote share was not that far behind what happened in Dunfermline in February 2006 when the Labour and the Tories were running neck and neck in the polls and the LD share had apparently collapsed. Ealing Southall was a better result for Labour than than Livingstone but not by that much.

At a time when Labour poll leads of 6-7% are being recorded you would have expected something better.

    Now I don’t buy the “mid-term government” excuse that we’ve heard. This is not a mid-term government but something that is being presented as very new and should be judged as such.

The Tories did not do well last Thursday and neither did Labour. The Lib Dems also disappointed. The only party to come out of the day that can be pleased with itself was the BNP – and that’s something that has hardly received any attention.

Mike Smithson


Hills open a “next Tory leader” market

Wednesday, July 25th, 2007

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    Can Dave withstand the pressure?

With the polls continuing to go against him William Hill has opened a market on the next Tory leader.

At the weekend I suggested that Cameron should pre-empt such a move by putting his job on the line in a “back me or sack me” move.

These are the prices

W Hague 9/4
D Davis 5/1
G Osborne 10/1
A Lansley 10/1
L Fox 12/1
A Duncan 12/1
N Herbert 14/1
T Villiers 16/1
P Ainsworth 20/1
E Vaizey 20/1
C Spelman 20/1
A Mitchell 20/1
T May 25/1
P Hammond 25/1
M Rifkind 25/1
K Clarke 25/1
J Kirkbride 25/1
J Hunt 25/1
O Letwin 33/1
D Willetts 33/1
M Gove 33/1
F Maude 40/1
C Grayling 50/1
B Johnson 50/1

Mike Smithson


How long until a Labour majority is the betting favourite?

Wednesday, July 25th, 2007

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    The money goes on the Brown bounce being sustained

Even though today’s ICM poll in the Guardian, reported in the previous thread, shows a one point drop in Labour’s lead the sentiment on the betting markets is moving towards Labour being returned with an overall majority for an unprecedented fourth term.

On the Cantor Spreadfair commons seat market this morning prices are CON 252-255.7: LAB 307.2-310.4: LD 48.1-54 seats. So the mid-point in the Labour spread is nearly 309 seats or just sixteen short of an overall majority.

The picture’s the same on Betfair’s general election outcome market. The chart, based on betting odds presented as implied probabilities, shows the big changes that have taken place this year. This morning the no overall majority price is 1.42/1 with Labour tightening to 1.52.

    If the polls continue to show Labour with a lead of 6% or more then it cannot be long before Brown being returned with an overall majority becomes the favoured outcome.

Given how polls drive the market it’s important to note that we are in for a spate of surveys in the next week and then after that, as we move into August, we’ll go through the usual summer polling famine.

My current spread position is a Labour buy at 307 seats.

Mike Smithson


Labour maintain substantial lead with ICM

Tuesday, July 24th, 2007

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    But no by election bounce for Gordon

The July ICM survey for the Guardian is just out and shows a one point decline in the Labour lead. The figures compared with the last ICM poll a week and a half ago are CON 32% (-1): LAB 38% (-2): LD 20% (+1)

The survey took place from the Friday after the by elections and finished on Sunday evening. So the headlines were mostly dominated by Labour’s success and the progress that the Lib Dems made.

The Tories must be relieved that the poll is not as bad as it might have been while Labour might be a tad disappointed that their share is down a touch.

For Ming a return to the 20s from the pollster that usually gives them the best ratings will be a welcome relief and might ease some of the pressure that’s been on his leadership.

The fact the the lead is down, if only by just a point, will take away some of the case for Gordon to go to the country early.

Next polls: This coming weekend there will be at least two polls being carried out – Populus for the Times and Communicate Research for the Indy. I’m also expecting a YouGov poll in the Telegraph on Friday.

Please note I have changed the comparison figures above to the last ICM poll.

Mike Smithson